- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

Carved ‘Scooter’

“Don’t let George Bush pardon this turkey.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and rumors buzzing around Washington that the president will pardon him and others involved in the CIA leak case.


Lord, we ask of You a boon:

To bless our guests this noon.

We’re so grateful they

Could come today —

And have to leave real soon!

— F.R. Duplantier

Wine and Waco?

The White House made it known that the “first lady of the press office” — Jill McClellan — accompanied her husband, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan, aboard Air Force One en route to Waco, Texas, as this week, in addition to Thanksgiving, they celebrate their second wedding anniversary.

“They were planning to drive to Austin tonight in lieu of a romantic getaway at the Waco Hilton,” the White House pool report notes.

Bagging a bird

Shoot your Thanksgiving turkey this year?

Word is that more wild turkeys are to be had in North America — and more Americans are hunting them.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) said that with Thanksgiving upon us, there’s no better time to celebrate the comeback of the wild turkey. As recently as the early 1900s, it said, turkeys “teetered on the brink of extinction.”

In those years, the wild turkey population in North America hovered around 30,000. But now, thanks to federal and state conservation measures, wild turkeys have steadily increased in number and expanded their range.

“Today, wildlife biologists estimate that close to 7 million wild turkeys roam the fields and forests of North America, making it perhaps the greatest conservation success story of the 20th century,” the NWTF said.

Meanwhile, after a downward spiral, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports the number of paid hunting-license holders in America is rising. The number of resident licenses, tags, permits and stamps issued in 2004 increased 4.1 percent over 2003 to 33.1 million, while the nonresident quantity posted at more than 3 million, a jump of 5.6 percent over 2003.

Currently, hunting-license holders represent about 5 percent of the U.S. population, far less than the 16.8 million — just more than 9 percent of the U.S. population — of the mid-1980s, when hunting numbers peaked in America.

Pull up a chair

How about a story of hunting and romance on this Thanksgiving Day?

We turn to Rep. Jo Bonner, Alabama Republican, who recalls the rich history of the Frank and Ocllo Boykin Hunting Lodge in his state.

“Stories of Congressman Frank Boykin are certainly not unfamiliar,” says Mr. Bonner, noting that for nearly three decades, spanning much of the Depression, World War II, the Korean War and the civil rights era, the flamboyant Mr. Boykin represented Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

“During this time, ‘Mr. Frank’ invited some of the most prominent government, military and business leaders to his hunting lodge in Washington County,” says the congressman, pointing out that the annual hunts took place immediately after Thanksgiving and lasted for several days.

Mr. Boykin, in fact, would transport congressional colleagues and other officials to his lodge aboard a chartered Pullman car.

“Guests of the Boykin Lodge included three different speakers of the House,” Mr. Bonner says. “Stories of a Boykin hunt weekend almost always included hound dogs, barbecue, cold ‘adult beverages,’ a game or two of cards and shotguns.”

Just as important, he said, the lodge served as a place for congressmen to relax away from Washington “and to bond with one another.”

Obviously, Mr. Boykin was quite a character — one reason J. Edgar Hoover kept a thick FBI file on the congressman.

But on a kinder note, the Mobile Register recalled not long ago that the “great romantic gesture in Frank Boykin’s florid life was to gallop his horse alongside a moving train, jump onto a passenger car, search out a lovely young school teacher named Ocllo Gunn, and tell her she would one day be his bride.”

“My mother told that story a lot. That’s a true story,” said Bob Boykin, one of Frank and Ocllo Boykin’s two surviving sons.

Longer year

The first thing Steve Doocy, co-host of Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends,” did yesterday when unveiling the network’s 2006 calendar was turn to July to make certain there were 31 days in the month.

Last year, he explained, July 31 was accidentally left off the calendar — resulting, obviously, in mass chaos for millions of people already walking around in August.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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